A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chestnut: Hero of Central Park is a film about two orphan girls who are adopted, but who must hide their beloved rescue dog from their parents, culminating in a scene where the dog is injured (with blood shown) and thought to be dying. Some of the themes of potential pet loss and girls whose lives revolve around their orphan status may be upsetting to some children.
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What's the story?
When Sal (Makenzie Vega) and Ray (Abigail Breslin) -- new owners of a rescue dog named Chestnut -- are adopted by loving parents, the good news is quickly outweighed when they learn they'll be moving to an apartment in New York City where dogs aren't allowed (and furthermore, Dad is allergic). How long will the girls keep the Great Dane hidden, and what will they do if they're ever found out?
Is it any good?
CHESTNUT: HERO OF CENTRAL PARK has a heart of gold, even if it's a little gold-plated. It's an uplifting family tale about two orphan girls adopted by loving parents, and the kids' fight to keep a beloved pet hidden as long as possible. But it comes with a big implausibility alert: How two girls could ever pull off hiding an enormous Great Dane in a New York City apartment with two involved new parents, much less sneak out daily for exercise and bathroom breaks in Central Park, unsupervised no less, makes the suspension of disbelief a little tough here.
That said, dog lovers will appreciate the kids' escapades in keeping up with a Great Dane who can't avoid mischief, and there's a little bit of Home Alone that creeps in with a side plot about two robbers up to no good. Parents will be relieved to see a really sweet, thoughtful portrayal of friendship and love between two sisters in lieu of the usual bickering. And though it isn't the most well-done family film, the messages here, about compromise, about family love, about giving people the space to adjust to change, about being willing to reconsider your views when evidence points otherwise, are hard to argue with.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about hiding things from your parents, and how the sisters in the film kept their dog hidden. Have you ever hidden something big from your parents? What happened?
The dog Chestnut was extremely loyal. Go online to learn more about different types of dogs and the many skills they have developed to help humans.
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